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“Jailhouse Politician” Withdraws from Indiana Race, But Another Wins in DC

By Jo Ellen Nott

On May 18, 2022, an Indiana jail detainee who had advanced in the GOP primary for the Clinton Township Board—while being held in the Boone County Jail without bond—signed to formally withdraw from the race.

Andrew Wilhoite, 40, came in third in the primary vote for one of three open Board seats on May 3, 2022, receiving 60 of the 276 total votes cast by fellow Republicans for candidates to represent them in the November 2022 general election. His withdrawal form did not give a reason for his decision.

Wilhoite is accused of fatally striking his wife in the head with a concrete pot and then dumping her body in a creek after she filed for legal separation from him. Police found the body of Elizabeth “Nikki” Wilhoite, 41, lying in about three feet of water on March 26, 2022, six days after she made the filing on March 18, 2022, citing marital infidelity by her husband. The couple had been married 12 years. Nikki Wilhoite had just completed her last chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

Her husband at first lied about his whereabouts the day of the murder, but he then admitted to the killing, according to Indiana State Police. His trial is set for August 29, 2022.

Wilhoite is not the first candidate to advance from a cell recently. In a special election held on June 25, 2021, Joel Caston, 45, a prisoner at the D.C. jail, won the race for advisory neighborhood commissioner (ANC) in District 7F07 in southeast Washington, D.C.

Caston, who is serving a 26-year sentence for a felony offense committed at age 18, was elected from a group of five other prisoners. The unpaid position he won was created with the aim of bringing government closer to all the residents of the neighborhood, including those imprisoned at the jail.

On November 22, 2021, Caston was released on parole, though he will still occupy his post through the end of his term in 2023. At the D.C. Jail, he taught financial literacy classes, founded a mentorship program called Young Men Emerging and helped found a newspaper for prisoners.

Sources: DCist, Indianapolis Star, NBC News, NPR, Washington Post

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